The Horsies Go To Albany! Cuomo & Co. Reach Deal On NYRA Takeover

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Those ponies are in need of some serious government red tape.

The Voice reported yesterday on the legislative free-for-all going on in Albany right now, which includes the cyber-bullying law and the teacher evaluation publicity argument, as the session deadline on Thursday approaches. But the Governor and the rest of his statesmen are not stopping there: the next target will be pointed at the race tracks.

According to the Daily News this morning, a deal is in the works to hand over the New York Racing Association, the private agency in charge of Saratoga, Aqueduct and the glorious Belmont (Still trying to watch the Stakes? Here's the post time!), to New York State. As of now, the three tracks are overlooked by a board made up of 25 "insiders" in the horse-racing world. 

If the deal that was submitted Saturday night is passed, these guys will be replaced by a 17-member commission, carefully picked by Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. The racing industry in New York will only be run by the state for three years.

Is there such thing as socialized horseback riding?

The move comes after news broke that the NYRA was shorting bettors $8.5 million over a 15-month span and then attempted to cover it up. NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward was immediately fired and the state government began pulling together plans to restore "the viability and continuity of the racing industry," as the bill reads. 

Soon after, Cuomo announced that a takeover was inevitable and the best option for the shareholders and fans. With it, the state will not incur any new costs and liabilities. It's a taxpayer's dream to own a horse without spending a dime!

On the new board, the numbers will run like this: Cuomo has eight selections (including the chair); Skelos and Silver get two each; and the NYRA, with the power they have left, will get the last vote on five of the sitting board members. To represent the workers, one non-voting member will be elected from both the horsemen and breeders association.  So, in the end, it's a combined effort between the branches of the state government and the private sector.

With the only real change happening behind closed doors, the actual on-the-ground events of the NYRA will hardly change a bit. But, next time you're smuggling Bud Lights into Belmont or  screaming at the top of your lungs at a horse that doesn't even know you at Saratoga, make sure you remember: those horses are everyone's horses now.

[jsurico15@gmail.com/@JSuricz]

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